Cat Separation Anxiety: What Are the Causes, Signs, and Possible Treatment?

While the research on separation anxiety in cats is in the early stages of understanding, many have noticed the signs. I will retell the story of my two cats, Bubba and Charlie.

Charlie was my future wife’s cat for 4 years. About 6 years ago, when we moved in together, Charlie was distant and avoided me, at least at first. Once he realized that I was here to stay, he began to accept me. A little distant at first, but slowly accepting me to the point that she was lying on my lap much to my wife’s dismay. My job at the time was on the road, with periods of time at home. We soon realized that when I was out, Charlie groomed himself excessively, to the point of creating a bald spot on his side. When he was at home, he stopped grooming himself excessively. In my retirement the only time we were out was every two weeks, my wife had to go back to the hospital she worked for to do her payroll. We would be out 2 to 3 days every 2 weeks. Upon our return, we would find that Charlie had vomited all over the house and on our bed. The reason we know this, once we get home, we find her vomiting. As soon as we took out our bags to pack for our trip, Charlie would hide, under the bed, on the couch, or under the dining room table to avoid us.

Bubba, on the other hand, was a stray dog ‚Äč‚Äčthat I adopted about a year after moving in, my best guess was that he was about a year old. It took a while, but Charlie and Bubba became good friends. The only sign with him was that upon our return he would not let us lose sight of it. If you went to the bathroom, he had to be there too. He walked with me, rubbing against me, to the point of almost tripping me.

Upon investigation, these are all signs of separation anxiety in cats. Speculation about the cause ranges from genetic factors to environmental factors involved. Some say that being orphaned or weaned early can predispose to the development of separation anxiety. As this topic is studied further, more information may be gathered.

Things to do are subjective. The first thing would be to ask your vet for a complete physical exam to make sure the behavior is not caused by some underlying physical problem. This may include blood tests, urinalysis, thyroid tests, or a blood pressure check.

Some other suggestions include making departure time less stressful by making changes to the normal routine. Some experts suggest that for 15 minutes before leaving and when returning home, the owner should ignore the cat. Leaving a distracting toy can be helpful. Someone suggested hiding tasty treats in various places around the house. Making the environment more stimulating can help. A cat tower with toys placed near a window might help. Sometimes they just enjoy watching what happens outside.

Some experts have stated that short-term use of anti-anxiety medications may be necessary in some situations. You should note that these are not specifically labeled for use in cats and should / should be prescribed and monitored by your vet.

In the future, research should be able to give us more information on the cause and treatment of separation anxiety in cats and improve the lives of our little feline friends.

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